MEMO TO GENERAL M BUHARI
Dear Mr President-Elect,
Those who had the opportunity to share the same military background and work closely with you sometime in the past would not help thanking posterity for throwing you up once more. A country above 50 and still wobbling must have been infested and infected with chronic social, political and structural polio. This is obviously no good news. May God save us!
Perhaps, the impression you left in some of us, assisted us not to end up in jail when we found ourselves handling some offices with some mouth-watering fiscal budgets when e-transactions were non-existent. I thank God that this has remained part of me for life (You were my GOC both at Lagos and HQ 3Armoured Division, Jos before proceeding back to Lagos as Head of State and Commander-in-Chief).
A lot has happened since then. Having been called all sorts of names because of our unalloyed alignment, support and belief in you, even in democratic dispensations, I beg you in the name of God the merciful, not to disappoint us. Some of us do not know where to hide our faces if you do not perform much better than your predecessor to rescue this sinking and wandering ship called Nigeria.
It may not show wisdom for the man who wants to make progress to compare himself with less achievers. Rather, he would thank God for His mercies thus far and inquire from great achievers, the way they went about it.
Sir, you may admit thus far, that our country must be grateful to God for keeping us together in spite of the quantum of our abundant foolishness we display in our divisiveness and inadequacies, resulting to a general lack of national consciousness. We need however, to tap some knowledge from countries that gained independence about same time with us or before us, but have since moved on to being worthy of reckoning. Even within their achievements and greatness, they still aspire for greater heights because they believe that what we in Nigeria term the best may not yet be good enough for them.
Some achieved greatness through persuasion while others did so through a combination of persuasion, determination and some other stern but relative necessary measures which some unrealistic modern minds brand draconian. A man over 50 without set goals could not be said to possess any ambition. Just too bad! He needed not be told that it might be too late for him. We must as a nation therefore, wake up and get cracking in search of our BLACK GOATS in the day time; for it could be difficult to locate them in darkness.
Sir, this country needs to be made to understand that every hand needs be on deck, starting from the lowest common man to the highly placed and on to the Presidency. Reducing corruption to the barest minimum in Nigeria must therefore, not be seen as Buhari’s personal indaba.
A president who ends up owning half of the nation’s wealth is by no means what we need. Thank God I know you well. A state governor who ends up as the owner of choice and palatial houses and plazas all over the country and beyond, is not what we need. The legislature that ends up appropriating half of the national budget to itself is surely not what we need. A school proprietor who makes his school unaffordable for the common man is not what we need. In the same vein, a public school that does not create a good learning condition for pupils and students is not what we need. Finally, a country that is insecure and does not create good atmosphere for learning, business and for her growth, is not what we need. CCTVs in our country must not be for fancy.
Nigeria has enough for every citizen’s need but not enough for every citizen’s greed. She needs the Government’s protection and not exploitation. Therefore, in all ramifications, the ‘convoys’ of all government functionaries need to be reduced as of necessity, to the barest minimum. No progress will be made with one step forward and three steps backward. So far, I may have sounded philosophical, but these facts remain the stark realities confronting us as a country.
So, we need to imbibe the fear of God in all our conducts. Therefore, if one becomes a president, one must preside well with the fear of God. If one becomes a governor, one must govern well with the fear of God. Same thing goes for our legislators, professors, contractors, traders, scholars, drivers and even students and pupils etc. If our National Orientation Agency functioned even a little like our erstwhile MAMSER, all Nigerians ought to have imbibed this and behaved as expected by now.
Please Sir, note that the things that matter most in Aso Rock are the arts and sciences of governance and nothing else. The General Buhari I know has never shied away from tough decisions and hard works. I trust that apart from being a successor to your predecessor, God willing, you must be successful in piloting to safety, the evil-wind-battered ship of our nation.
So Sir, I humbly advise that the first step towards success could be that all involved in your regime need as a priority, declare their assets publicly. Our verbal declaration of intent not to be fraudulent in governance and government business needs to commence with an open physical and practical declaration of assets. Otherwise, your Government could be perceived as insincere to the electorate and masses it professes to serve.
The outrageous cost of government convoys and governance in Nigeria needs to be addressed as a priority. This could begin with a critical review of the cost of political campaigns and electioneering. All these vices are anchored in putrid corruption. Our wild pursuit after riches at the expense of decency has led to a moral decadence. A boy could therefore bolt out and return in a jiffy with expensive cars, living in an obvious sinful opulent affluence and the parents and neighbours would keep a sinful silence.
Obviously, we cannot continue like this. A situation in the same country where the few rich and mighty would be affluently and lavishly spending dollars while the majority poor and downtrodden would be hitting their heads against the walls, struggling to spend their hard-earned scarce naira, is surely not healthy. In order to avoid a bloody and riotous revolution that could even sweep along with it, the innocent, citizens need to be made to understand that our bad ways must change.
Our justice and law enforcement systems need overhauling and re-energizing to help grow our democracy. Democracy could be a serious business to a serious-minded nation. Police must no longer detain suspects as long as they wished without adequate synergy with the laws of our land. However, those who think that this could be a license to go wild must be made to know that CHANGE has come.
All salaries and allowances of public servants need to be made open. Gone are the days of hidden expenses in the guise of etcetera-etcetera including and-so-on-and-so-forth mantra to cover up unaccounted hidden expenses. The rate of capital flight needs to be checked to ensure that our money remains in Nigeria and used to develop our country. Our capital expenditure as compared to our recurrent is currently, highly unsustainable and therefore, must be unacceptable to your administration.
The overlap in the duties of some government agencies, parastatals and institutions breeds institutional corruption. Within the first 6 months of your administration, please Sir, try and streamline them so that, without ambiguity and overlapping, the relevant ones should be sustained while the ‘over-loads’ are jettisoned. A few examples could be the EFCC cum ICPC, NDDC cum Ministry of Niger Delta and Ministry of Works cum Federal Roads Maintenance Agency aka FERMA etc.
Some time ago a national newspaper claimed that 60% of the West African medical doctors were Nigerians. Some of us therefore, ask why Nigerians must seek medical help overseas. Something drastic therefore, needs to be done to our medical care system.
Sir, please note that a lot of junks and unnecessary items are being imported into this country, not for the benefit of the masses but just to fatten the bank accounts of the importers.
All fingers point to the fact that poverty and corruption could be reduced to the barest minimum if the poor conditions in our POWER and TRANSPORT sectors were addressed. To this end, I suggest a review in the laws guiding the importation of electric generating sets into the country. A good example could be found in India. Extremely necessary electric generating sets could only be brought into the country purely for military/security, hospital and agricultural use only. By this restriction, willy-nilly, solutions to our power problems must be found internally. Nigeria has enough engineers to do this. They only need to be tasked and equipped. Attention also needs to be given to renewable sources of energy such as sun/solar, wind, coal and rivers which are in abundance in our country. They cost less, give joy to the user and could save the country a lot of embarrassment.
On transportation, I humbly advise that a serious and not a cosmetic TV show efforts to bring back our rail system needs to be restarted. This could relieve our roads of the heavy burden on them caused by heavy trucks, trailers and buses. So, our roads and bridges could be made motorable and monitored all year round. The era of ground-breaking and foundation-laying ceremonies for the sole purpose of winning elections needs to be brought to an end. Christmas/Salah or not, New Year or not, all roads are important for the use of the good and patient people of Nigeria all year round.
Although air travels could be associated with the rich, the Nigerian Airways needs to be revived and run as a business venture without discarding totally, its social garb. There could be no pride in a country without a national carrier but boasts of a Presidential Fleet of over 10 jet airliners for the use of Mr President, his family and associates.
Our moribund shipping lines also need to be revived. A lot has to be saved if this is done. A lot of employment also could be generated through this. Our public officers, especially our politicians and political appointees must learn how to patronize commercial planes only. Private jets could be used on the basis that they pay appropriate and high taxes as would be fashioned out by the laws of the land. Our industries need to be revived to both support our economy and suck up some chunk of the army of unemployed youths.
Another painful aspect of our national corruption is the one called Security Budget/Vote. Many Nigerians are not unmindful of very many illicit and fraudulent arrangements and things that took place which guzzled trillions of Naira; all purported to as the case might be, to have been spent to quell or fuel Boko Haram, armed robbery, militancy, etc. God save us! Perhaps, this could be why those who collected billions of naira to market the out-going regime pocketed such money and are now buying up estates etc in a free-style scramble to the detriment of the ordinary citizen.
So Sir, it could be in the interest of the down-trodden that your regime succeeded. So, I humbly submit that you promise us that you will never be over-protective of your political appointees and party men at the risk and expense of probity and accountability. Therefore, it could be in our collective interest that I repeat that all public and political servants declare their assets. Nothing to hide!
Sir, in your usual character, you need to allay the fears of those who could jump into conclusion that General Buhari will only go after his perceived foes. For now, you need to declare that you have no foes; perceived or real. However, if any man put in a position of authority has cornered our common resources, his fears may be right if he does not change from his old ways. The party or status does not matter. The resources of this country must not continue to be shared by an exclusive few. Anyone who is not ready to live clean could be better advised to leave township. However, he could be advised to know that our judicial and law-enforcement systems will be so energized to do the needful; their constitutional jobs, much so that there could be no hiding place for anyone who decides to live in his sinful past. Injustice to a single poor or rich man in this country needs to be seen as injustice to our collective will.
The Police, who every Dick and Harry sees as the most corrupt, must wake up and launder its image. I think there is every need to start from its name. The Nigeria Police Force could be better known and called the Nigeria Police, without the word ‘Force’. This could make it look civil and friendly and therefore, in clear terms stop them from dreaming that they are part and parcel of the Nigerian Armed Forces. Surely, the Police was not set up to pose as part of the Military but as a civil outfit meant to protect citizens and enforce the laws of the land.
As for the Military, some of their conducts both in the anti-terrorism/Boko Haram operations and the last General Elections could be questionable. These actions made some of us ask if this were not the Nigeria Army we meritoriously served in. I suggest that something should be done to rescue this only National Institution that is billed to stand when others fail and shove turns to push.
It may not be an overstatement to submit that our oil industry stinks and needs a major overhauling. It is a popular opinion that any surgical/cesarean operation that needs to be conducted in NNPC and the subsidiaries needs to be quick and clinical before it contaminates your lieutenants. It is generally known that the schemers in this Corporation are too smart and fraudulently powerful. Other sources of income need to be seriously explored. You are very much aware of this. The recurrent fuel scarcity has become a permanent sore and therefore, a constant source of embarrassment to this country. You may need to seriously demand many cogent reasons why our refineries are not working.
Our citizenship needs to be redefined. A citizen under the full backing of the laws of our land must not be made or left to live in fear. He needs to be allowed to ask questions to clear his doubts and reasonably keep the government on its toes. The unconnected in this land remains frustrated and hopeless. This cuts across all facets of our national psyche. I think it was one of our late great musicians who sang that we fear for even the air around us. No one wants to take up the gauntlet, probably because even our justice and law-enforcement systems may have become suspect and compromised.
Our country has been through a lot, yet, the fear of who bells the cat remains our undoing. If some of you who have tried and failed three times at the polls withdrew into your cocoons in fear, the hope that people sight and exhibit today could have remained a mirage.
In societies that strive to improve their lots, even their reforming institutions such as detention centres, prisons and cells etc, could be compared to some fine guest houses in Nigeria. When one visits our detention centres, one could not help but shudder. Even our orphanages, private or public, are not spared of this rot. The reasons are not far-fetched. Those who operate them see them as ways to fatten their private bank accounts at the expense and detriment of inmates to the embarrassment of the nation. This could be nothing but share wickedness in this New Nigeria. Needless to say the obvious; that this way of life has permeated all strata of our national engagement, psyche and institutions.
Sir, please let Nigerians know that time has come for us to draw a red line beyond which no citizen, no matter how highly placed could cross at will. Retired civil servants and military pensioners could not be said to have been treated well in a country they ‘wasted’ their useful years. The myriads of the mistakes of your predecessor are too glaring for you to learn from. Do not mix national politics with religion. Though religion could be a vehicle or a veritable tool for refining people’s characters, it could also boomerang and turn out to be the opium of the people and therefore, our Achilles’ heel. Nigerians need to be made to understand that no one ever applied to be born into either a Christian or a Moslem family.
Please Sir, beware of the antics of the state governors and our super blind religious Overseers and Marabouts. They have so far posed a national problem and deceived many in Aso-Rock. So far, you do not resemble their next victim and I do not wish you to be one.
May God bless our NEW NIGERIA and give you the right vigour TO BE YOURSELF and NOT TO CALL A SPADE A SHOVEL.
MCBEN CO NWAKA
05 May 2015
[McBen Oguguo Nwaka is a retired but not tired [email protected] 08033071357 & 08097065989]